Not quite 24 hours, but the need to hurry was surely running the show! Sadly, there were a number of things slowing us down, namely access to tools.
The first step I had of the morning was to grind out a few imperfections (we had two grinders for twelve people) so I could do what we call a hot fit (more on this later). As there was a line for Sam’s help (as he was just moving us through it and had the only tools for the process), I was told to get my pommel taken care of while I was waiting.
Once the hole was drilled, we started the process.
The hot fit process consists of hearing up the guard and sliding it into place. As it’s warm, it will better shape to the tang and shoulders and create a snug fit without needing to be pinned or welded. The same is true for the pommel as it will stretch and form to the tang correctly for another great fit without the need for pins or welds.
The process took maybe ten or fifteen minutes, as the pommel was a dense material that took a while to heat up. After these were done, it was time to wait for it to cool and clean them up one more time.
Once they were cleaned, it was time to get rolling on the handle. I was handed two random bits of wood, told to trace the outline and get started on carving. Now, I’m the guy who nearly failed wood shop in high school, so this was a very daunting task considering the time limit.
With some help from a TA after lunch, I was good to go to finish shaping these with a grinder (a long wait in line) and some finishing touches by hand while waiting for my chance to do the final fitting. Sadly, I did have to do some cutting down, as they were a bit too long after we did the final fitting and peen everything.
On a cool note: if you hit a garbage sword with a hammer, it will sound like it’s rattling, and that’s because it is. It means there’s a loose fit in the guard and/or the pommel. If a hot fit and peening is successful, it will sound like a church bell and literally have a nice ring to it.
In any case, after cutting down the wood, I scrambled to glue it together with some epoxy. By the time it dried, it was 4pm, with class scheduled to end at 5pm.
At this point, one of the students (Matt, from Poland) was just finishing the affixing process of the wooden grips of his sword (a cavalry saber), while four of us just finished drying our handles. Our next step was to work in pairs to apply tape to the guard and pommel (for protection) before spraying an adhesive on our handles and tightly wrapping some twine around them to give the leather handle a bit more grip and texture. It took a while, but it was done!
Sam then came out to give us instructions on how to measure and cut the leather, and gave us orders to repeat the twine process once more to help apply pressure and allow the handle to seal. It also had the added perk of creating some extra texture.
Once I finished tying this in place, the shenanigans began! Sam, being Sam, wanted us to chop things with our swords, and had one of his TAs pick up fruit. Each student was given a pineapple to slice apart with our swords. I have a video somewhere, and if I can find a place that isn’t youtube to upload it, I’ll gladly share the link!
With a large number of pineapple chunks sitting around, Sam had all of us place our swords down in a row for some photos.
Of the class, four of us finished EVERYTHING, one guy did his own thing (that curved blade next to mine), two of them finished their handles but didn’t cord them, and two finished the blade but not the handles. Sam’s sword (third one in) wasn’t finished due to the power issues, but is still pretty deadly.
Somehow, in five days, I took a bit of metal and turned it into a sword. This was an insanely educational process, but I think I’ll save that for the next post.
Stay tuned, for next time you’ll see the FINAL photos of the sword (taken with a better camera, promise!) as well as some final thoughts and introspection. Hope you’re looking forward to it!
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